Temporary Jobs Rise for 5th Month, First Time Since 2005; Largest 5-Month Increase Since 1990
WALL STREET JOURNAL -- Even though the payroll number was worse than expected, the data reflects an improvement in the jobs market. Job losses have been moderating substantially during 2009 as the U.S. economy recovered from its worst recession in decades.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, employment losses averaged 69,000 per month, compared to job losses of 691,000 a month in the first quarter of last year. Employment in construction fell by 53,000 in December, while manufacturing jobs fell by 27,000. Temporary help services added 47,000 jobs in December and health care employment continued to increase, by 22,000.
Two positive signs from today's employment report are:
1) Manufacturing overtime hours for November were revised up to 3.4 hours, the highest level since October 2008, and December overtime remained steady at 3.4 hours. This marks the ninth month in a row that overtime hours have either increased or stayed the same as the previous month.
2) The number of temporary help workers increased by 46,500 to the highest level since January 2009 (see graph above), and temporary workers increased five consecutive months for the first time since 2005.
Update: The 166,400 increase in temporary jobs since August is the largest 5-month increase since at least 1990 (data series may only go back to 1990).
Both of those indicators signal a labor market that is slowly recovering, and strongly suggest that the worst is behind us.